Terry touts cybersecurity plan

Published Thursday, October 6, 2011: By Joseph Morton, WORLD-HERALD BUREAU

WASHINGTON — Rep. Lee Terry and other House Republicans unveiled proposals Wednesday for defending the country's critical infrastructure that rely on a mix of voluntary standards, incentives, limited regulation and public awareness campaigns.

The Omaha lawmaker is one of 12 members on the Republican Cybersecurity Task Force, which House Speaker John Boehner formed in June to chart ways to protect U.S. water sources, power companies and telecommunications networks from computer attacks.

Most of that infrastructure is in the hands of the private sector and is vulnerable to sophisticated cyberattacks, according to the task force.

"You used to be worried about the 14-year-old hacker down the street playing games," Terry said. But now hacking attempts appear to be state-supported efforts in countries such as China.

Democrats have their own proposals for dealing with cybersecurity. It remains to be seen how much of a fight the issue will spark or what priority it will receive, given lawmakers' focus on the economy and the coming presidential election campaigns.

The approach outlined by the task force Wednesday includes raising awareness about the importance of removing "clutter" from computer systems that can mask an attack. It also calls for setting government cybersecurity standards and limiting civil liability for those who follow them.

"We don't want to mandate this on people," Terry said.

Terry stressed the importance of flexibility and communication in this area, given the speed with which cyber threats arise and change. The task force suggested the establishment of a new independent entity that could aid the sharing of information about cyber threats between industry and government.

Terry said the proposals are unlikely to have a major impact at U.S. Strategic Command, which has its headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base near Bellevue. StratCom oversees the military's nuclear weapons, missile defense systems, space satellites and cyberspace mission.


< Return to News Page